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Mobile App Review: Socially Curated Reading
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Mobile App Review: Socially Curated Reading - Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Socially Curated Reading

Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Socially Curated Reading

Mobile devices give us access to more current events news than we’ve ever had before, which is both a blessing and a curse. A few swipes across the glassy surface of our phones and we can see all the news of the day, from publication-specific channels such as the New York Times or personally customizable feeds such as Google News to feed aggregators such as Feedly (which we reviewed last year), the options are impressive but sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes what we want is curation by the community, however “community” is defined for our needs. For socially curated reading, there are a few nice options, often a great starting point for seeing what went on in the world while we slept, with input from trusted curators about what we might want to look at first.

We mentioned Nuzzel in our Twitter Tips article earlier this year. Once your Twitter and/or Facebook profile is loaded, Nuzzel presents a list of links shared by multiple people in your streams. The Nuzzel feed can get a bit monotonous from day to day, depending on how aggressive members of your stream are in sharing links they’re personally connected to. A Washington Post columnist, for example, will of course share multiple WaPo links, and if you follow several contributors to that newspaper, you’re likely to see lots of WaPo content in your Nuzzel update every day, something that kind of defeats the purpose of a service like Nuzzel. It’s still not a bad place to start, but there is more noise than signal if your follow-stream is constructed certain ways.

When it comes to actively curated content from people you know in real life (plus people you may not know in real life), it’s tough to beat Flipboard, which is especially lovely to look at on tablets. Flipboard has feed aggregation characteristics, so you can see at a glance which of your favorite blogs has updated since your last browse. It also has subject-specific preferences, much like Google News and the excellent Apple News app, but where it can be especially useful is in its ability to display news collected and shared by friends. You can follow your friends’ Flipboard “magazines,” or collections of shared content, which can be grouped by the sharer in whatever way makes sense to the curator. Let’s say your friend Mary is deeply interested in travel news, so her Flipboard preferences show her, every day, tons of travel-related content. Whenever she sees something especially interesting, she might share it in something called “Mary’s Magazine.” Rather than your slogging through tons of travel news, you can simply subscribe to Mary’s Magazine and see only the stuff she finds especially interesting. Meanwhile, Blaine might be interested in music news, so Blaine’s magazine will contain the music-related content he finds especially sharable. Flipboard’s user interface can seem tricky to navigate, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an enjoyable way to see what’s important or interesting according to your feeds and the shared feed of selected friends.

If you thrive on a little bit of chaos in your media consumption, Reddit, the curated website billing itself as “the front page of the internet” recently released its own mobile app, and although reviews are mixed, it’s a good place to start for a hodgepodge of reliably “up-voted” content in very specific areas of interest. Because Reddit has a friending feature, you can follow the content a trusted selection of Reddit friends has shared. It’s not quite as elegant or beautiful as Flipboard, but the Wild West feel of Reddit’s enormous user base means a chance to find excellent, obscure content outside the usual top-twenty sources we all see every day. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you find your curated streams sometimes get a bit monotonous and crave something more out-there, the Reddit app is pretty good to keep on your device just for the occasional forays. Be cautioned that there’s a LOT of not-safe-for-work content, so if you’re using the company wifi to update your content, be very careful in how you set up your preferences in the app.

A relative newcomer to this space is Kite (iOS only with an Android app apparently on its way). When you open the app, you are first presented with content shared by people you’ve friended. You can also use the app to browse news by topic or source. A quick tap on the star shares the content with your followers, or you can specify which follower you’d like to send the content to. You can also add Facebook-like comments on content. Kite aspires to be an all-in-one app for your news, and while it’s not quite that (largely because not all of your trusted content sharers will be using it), it can be a useful channel for reading and sharing, although it’s very likely more of your friends will be using Flipboard than Kite. New accounts need an invitation to sign up, but visiting kite.am and clicking “need an iOS invite?” will give you an invitation code, which you’ll use when you first set up the app. You can also sign up for an early alert when the Android app is available.

Even in the constantly shifting landscape of app world, news delivery apps are especially notorious for coming and going (Facebook announced just this week that it is no longer supporting its Paper app, and other darlings in this space just a year ago are no longer available), so we may revisit this topic in a year or so. Until then, Flipboard seems your best place to start if friend-curated material is your goal, but keep an eye on Kite, and keep Reddit handy for those unexpectedly long lines at the bank or those flight delays when you’ve already looked at everything else.


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Mobile App Review: Socially Curated Reading - Executive Leadership Articles

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